RE.WORK Future Technology Summit – Day 2

Guests interact with an Amazon Alexa smart-speaker.

Categories: Technology

Image by David Bird (Heisenberg Media)

9 October 2015


A showcase of future technology in the fields of 3D printing, energy, Artificial Intelligence and biomedicine

Day two of the event began with a focus on start-ups, which interestingly featured 3D printing in multiple presentations. Charlotte Downs of Cinter introduced us to 3D Hubs, an innovative concept in which a community of 3D printer users is being formed. Their aim is to widen the reach of 3D printing and allow people to easily access a printer to create their designs. A lively presentation from Paul Croft of Ultimaker followed this, showcasing the myriad ways they are using 3D printers. I was pleased to take home my very own 3D printed robot keyring from the Ultimaker machine, but Paul made sure to emphasise the fact that 3D printing is not just about plastic gimmicks any more – the focus is on using the technology creatively to enhance people’s lives.GravitySketch was another innovative concept that stood out to me – an app which allows you to design 3D objects but removes the need for complex interfaces. As anyone who has grappled with design applications will know, removing complicated control systems is a major advantage.

After the break, the focus shifted to energy. Pavegen founder Laurence Kemball-Cook spoke about the way his energy-generating floor tiles harvest electricity from the simplest of activities: walking. This was followed by a contrasting perspective on our constant need for more energy – Luca Gammaitoni presented his theories for zero-power computing – a way to massively reduce our energy consumption. Moving to Artificial Intelligence, Saquib Sarfraz presented his intriguing research on facial recognition systems that work in the dark. It seems this is now possible, thanks to thermal imaging cameras, but Saquib highlighted the many challenges he has faced in developing this system. Another innovative AI company presented was GoodAI, who are working towards developing general artificial intelligence using artificial brain simulators linked with video games.

The event finished with a section on biomedical technology. Vanessa Diaz from UCL introduced us to the ‘digital patient’ – a virtual twin that will enable completely personalised and tailored medical treatment. She explained that information will be stored digitally about a person’s medical history to allow doctors to test drugs virtually before prescribing them to the patient. The RE.WORK conference as a whole showcased a range of inspiring speakers and innovative technologies. We came away with a renewed appreciation for the diversity of technology and the potential it has to change the world.

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